When it comes to in-ear headphones, the good folks at Westone know how to scratch an itch. With options ranging from the midrange-heavy UM-Pro Series to custom-molded options, it’s easy to get confused by all those choices. But for serious listeners, the Westone W Series has much to recommend it. The W50 is the penultimate model in this lineup, with a price tag of $599. So how does it sound? And is it the right earphone for you?
Westone W50 Review
The W50 comes with all the bells and whistles that any other W-Series model comes with: a heavy-duty orange case, a ton of eartips, and two cables – one audio-only and one with an iOS-compatible mic and remote.
Build-wise, I feel like this earphone is a mixed bag. While the plastic construction keeps the earphone light and comfortable, it sometimes feels too light – and not as sturdy as it could be.
That being said, once you pop these in your ears and drop the cable behind your helix (the top of your ear, folks), the comfort is impressive. I’m pretty sure I could leave these things in for days without feeling any discomfort.
|Sensitivity||118 dB SPL @ 1 mW|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz to 20 kHz|
|Impedance||25 Ω @ 1 kHz|
|Noise Attenuation||25 dB passive|
|Driver||Five balanced armature drivers with a 3-way crossover|
|Cable||EPIC removable cable and MFI G2 cable|
|Cable Length||50″ (128 cm)|
|Weight||0.445 oz (12.7 g)|
Here you have a headphone with a standard frequency range and a low nominal impedance. Volume levels are high, while that five-balanced armature driver is sure to deliver a clean, articulate sound.
With a full low end, the sound of the W50 may not be particularly deep, but detail remains smooth. The bass has some impact, while ample control prevents any bleed and keeps those low-frequency notes easily separated.
The midrange is accurate and solid. While it doesn’t sport quite the same level of detail as those models in the UM-Pro Series, the W50 definitely comes close. While not suffering from distortion, there does seem to be the tiniest amount of compression in the mids. Not a total deal-breaker, but still something that deserves your attention.
Bright yet clear, the high end on the W50 delivers on the fine details without becoming piercing or uncomfortable. Female vocals, in particular, are surprisingly smooth.
The W50 features an impressive soundstage – for an in-ear headphone, that is. With good depth but only some sense of placement, these earphones do a good job of conveying the impression of space in a given track. However, the sound still seems very “in your head.”
The Westone W50 isn’t the cheapest earphone you could buy. In fact, it’s fairly expensive. However, for a dynamic headphone with such a clean sound, the W50 is a heavy hitter that doesn’t cut corners. Where most Westone headphones are concerned, quality is assured – and the W50 is no exception to this trend. If it’s worth the money, is it still the headphone for you, though?
If you’re a basshead, the W50 may offer the best sound in terms of a clean low end in a higher-end earphone. Even the W60 or Shure SE846 may not offer the same “oomph” in the low end (though they may offer a cleaner sound in general).
If you’re in search of a more midrange-heavy earphone (say, something for classical or instrumental music), the UM-Pro 50 might offer marginally more detail. However, the high end on the UM-Pro may be somewhat brighter, as well.
For most rock, hip-hop, and EDM listening tastes, the W50 is the strongest performer at this price point, but it’s also an earphone that performs fairly well when tackling more intricate recordings. As such, it could easily be that all-rounder earphone you’ve been hankering for.